2011: Volume 4, Issue 2, pp. 79-94

The 9/11 Decade: 
Social Imaginary and Healing Virtual Community Fracture

Charles A. Hays



The initial events of 9/11 broke upon the awareness of people who turned first to traditional media for information, then to their networks of distant others when traditional media could not meet their needs. This study looks at two online community groups on Usenet. Though other technologies have supplanted Usenet to some degree, it provided a vibrant means of asynchronously connecting people interested in online discussion. As community members expressed their shock and horror, they also acted out the process of repairing the radical fracture to their virtual communal identity. The process by which they enacted this repair embodies a social imaginary, and is generally called “community repair”. This study finds that the process of community repair is very much driven by the culture inherent in the sodality represented by the participants to each newsgroup, reflecting the values that participants have communally agreed to hold valuable.



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